Major players behind MLS expansion can finally breathe sigh of relief

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- While Sacramento soccer fans celebrated Monday like they did not have a care in the world, others were excited while breathing a big sigh of relief.

Many believe that if it was not for original investor Kevin Nagle, Major League Soccer’s announcement would not have happened.

When the MLS told Sacramento Republic FC that Nagle’s pockets weren’t deep enough, Nagle went out and found the people with enough cash to make Sacramento an MLS franchise.

And it was not always smooth sailing.

“There were some really tough days, some tough nights but I always knew that with the right team, which we had, we were going to make it happen,” Nagle said.

“Sitting where I sit, you have to remember that these are teams for forever. If you do it right, they're forever, they live a lifetime,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber.

For years, the man hearing the pleas from Nagle and crew was Garber. Garber said he could feel the passion from Sacramento from its first pitch to the league.

But, logistically, there were hurdles that needed to be cleared, even if it would take a long time to clear them.

“When you have got to go through the challenges and the trials and tribulations of the early phase, you have got to get it right because there is no way of really managing when you make a mistake,” Garber said. “So, we went through that process. It took five years but we never lost faith or hope in the city.”

In the middle of the back and forth between owners and the league was the team itself.

Ben Gumpert, the president and COO of Republic FC, said it was tough keeping specifics “in house” during the negotiations. He said it was as arduous of a process as many thought but, ultimately, it was all worth it.

“I honestly think that we are much stronger for the journey that we have been on. We are in a better place than we ever have been,” Gumpert said. “We are stronger than we ever have been. Now we are in that position. So, it’s about taking it from here and continuing to grow this amazing club and this amazing city.”

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